Cross Cultural Perspective by Karen Serago
Yongsook Kim-Lambert has lived outside her native culture since 1988, only recently having moved to rural Tyrone, PA, in 1999. Her work is reminiscent of Mark Rothkoâ€™s large â€“scale color-field paintings in term of flatness, space, and color but are not as austere and remote.
Rather, her work is associated with the Neo-expressionism of the 1980s, which began in Germany and Italy as a reaction against the pure geometric abstraction that had dominated the Western art scene for many decades. New York artists Francesco Clemente and Julian Schnabel brought the aesthetic vocabulary of New-expressionism to the forefront of American art, characterized a return to figurative imagery with emotional expression.
Kim-Lambert engages the viewer in a psychological game. Frequently, a shadowy figure is discernable among highly gestural strokes of that suggest a parallel between the rural environs of Pennsylvania and Kim-Lambertâ€™s feelings of alien-action. She prefers to produce large bodies of work in series, obsessively reworking subject matter. â€œOpus 32 is one of a series of paintings that deals specifically about me, my environment, and more generally my feelings and thoughts in autobiographical form in order to find my identity.â€
Schooled in the philosophy of the tradition art academy, where technical skill is valued above creative interpretation, Kim-Lambertâ€™s use of color signifies a break with her training. Whereas traditional Eastern landscape painting is characterize by simplicity and washes of blacks and grays, incorporating color only sparingly, Kim-Lambertâ€™s work integrates watercolor on paper, often with the addition acrylic paint to force a bolder palette.The appearance of Korea and Chinese calligraphy in her painting denotes both design and symbol.
Kim-Lambert creates texture and visual interest to the surface of her paintings by adding layers of paper cut from newspapers and magazine, often inspired by musical refrain, but the presence of enigmatic characters also specks to the larger issues of communication and power. Because the text indicates meaning but is hidden from the majority of Western audience, language become an index of both cultural difference and power imbalance. In Blsck Skin white mask philosopher Frantz Fanon argues that language functions â€œto assume a culture and to support the weight of a civilizationâ€ Thus, the text functions to empower Kim-Lambert by communication with a minority, or the â€œotherâ€ and by alienating the majority by disconnecting from it.
Karen Serago, Curator at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art